How to Honor Memorial Day

From the Archive: Memorial Day should be a time of sober reflection on war’s horrible costs, not a moment to glorify war. But many politicians and pundits can’t resist the opportunity, as Ray McGovern explains in this updated commentary from May 24, 2015. 

By Ray McGovern Special to Consortium News

Originally published on 5/24/2015

How best to show respect for the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families on Memorial Day? Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars in the first place and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.

First, let’s be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan [by May 2015] did not “fall.” They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream “journalists” almost none of whom gave a rat’s patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.

And, as for the “successful surges,” they were just P.R. devices to buy some “decent intervals” for the architects of these wars and their boosters to get space between themselves and the disastrous endings while pretending that those defeats were really “victories squandered” all at the “acceptable” price of about 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers each and many times that in dead Iraqis and Afghans.

Memorial Day should be a time for honesty about what enabled the killing and maiming of so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the senior military brass simply took full advantage of a poverty draft that gives upper-class sons and daughters the equivalent of exemptions, vaccinating them against the disease of war.

What drives me up the wall is the oft-heard, dismissive comment about troop casualties from well-heeled Americans: “Well, they volunteered, didn’t they?” Under the universal draft in effect during Vietnam, far fewer were immune from service, even though the well-connected could still game the system to avoid serving. Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, for example, each managed to pile up five exemptions. This means, of course, that they brought zero military experience to the job; and this, in turn, may explain a whole lot — particularly given their bosses’ own lack of military experience.

The grim truth is that many of the crëme de la crëme of today’s Official Washington don’t know many military grunts, at least not intimately as close family or friends. They may bump into some on the campaign trail or in an airport and mumble something like, “thank you for your service.” But these sons and daughters of working-class communities from America’s cities and heartland are mostly abstractions to the powerful, exclamation points at the end of  some ideological debate demonstrating which speaker is “tougher,” who’s more ready to use military force, who will come out on top during a talk show appearance or at a think-tank conference or on the floor of Congress.

Sharing the Burden?

We should be honest about this reality, especially on Memorial Day. Pretending that the burden of war has been equitably shared, and worse still that those killed died for a “noble cause,” as President George W. Bush liked to claim, does no honor to the thousands of U.S. troops killed and the tens of thousands maimed. It dishonors them. Worse, it all too often succeeds in infantilizing bereaved family members who cannot bring themselves to believe their government lied.

Sheehan: Few like her. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Free Getty image)

Who can blame parents for preferring to live the fiction that their sons and daughters were heroes who wittingly and willingly made the “ultimate sacrifice,” dying for a “noble cause,” especially when this fiction is frequently foisted on them by well-meaning but naive clergy at funerals. For many it is impossible to live with the reality that a son or daughter died in vain. Far easier to buy into the official story and to leave clergy unchallenged as they gild the lilies around coffins and gravesites.

Not so for some courageous parents. Cindy Sheehan, for example, whose son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 4, 2004, in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, demonstrated uncommon grit when she led hundreds of friends to Crawford to lay siege to the Texas White House during the summer of 2005 trying to get Bush to explain what “noble cause” Casey died for. She never got an answer. There is none.

But there are very few, like Cindy Sheehan, able to overcome a natural human resistance to the thought that their sons and daughters died for a lie and then to challenge that lie. These few stalwarts make themselves face this harsh reality, the knowledge that the children whom they raised and sacrificed so much for were, in turn, sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, that their precious children were bit players in some ideological fantasy or pawns in a game of career maneuvering.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is said to have described the military disdainfully as “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Whether or not those were his exact words, his policies and behavior certainly betrayed that attitude. It certainly seems to have prevailed among top American-flag-on-lapel-wearing officials of the Bush and Obama administrations, including armchair and field-chair generals whose sense of decency is blinded by the prospect of a shiny new star on their shoulders, if they just follow orders and send young soldiers into battle.

This bitter truth should raise its ugly head on Memorial Day but rarely does. It can be gleaned only with great difficulty from the mainstream media, since the media honchos continue to play an indispensable role in the smoke-and-mirrors dishonesty that hides their own guilt in helping Establishment Washington push “the fallen” from life to death.

We must judge the actions of our political and military leaders not by the pious words they will utter Monday in mourning those who “fell” far from the generals’ cushy safe seats in the Pentagon or somewhat closer to the comfy beds in air-conditioned field headquarters where a lucky general might be comforted in the arms of an admiring and enterprising biographer.

A military band and flag-waving for America’s national religion at National Airport, Washington, May 26, 2018. (Photo by Joe Lauria)

Many of the high-and-mighty delivering the approved speeches on Monday will glibly refer to and mourn “the fallen.” None are likely to mention the culpable policymakers and complicit generals who added to the fresh graves at Arlington National Cemetery and around the country.

Words, after all, are cheap; words about “the fallen” are dirt cheap especially from the lips of politicians and pundits with no personal experience of war. The families of those sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan should not have to bear that indignity.

‘Successful Surges’

The so-called “surges” of troops into Iraq and Afghanistan were particularly gross examples of the way our soldiers have been played as pawns. Since the usual suspects are again coming out the woodwork of neocon think tanks to press for yet another “surge” in Iraq, some historical perspective should help.

Take, for example, the well-known and speciously glorified first “surge;” the one Bush resorted to in sending over 30,000 additional troops into Iraq in early 2007; and the not-to-be-outdone Obama “surge” of 30,000 into Afghanistan in early 2010. These marches of folly were the direct result of decisions by George W. Bush and Barack Obama to prioritize political expediency over the lives of U.S. troops.

Taking cynical advantage of the poverty draft, they let foot soldiers pay the “ultimate” price. That price was 1,000 U.S. troops killed in each of the two “surges.”

And the results? The returns are in. The bloody chaos these days in Iraq and the faltering war in Afghanistan were entirely predictable. They were indeed predicted by those of us able to spread some truth around via the Internet, while being mostly blacklisted by the fawning corporate media.

Yet, because the “successful surge” myth was so beloved in Official Washington, saving some face for the politicians and pundits who embraced and spread the lies that justified and sustained especially the Iraq War, the myth has become something of a touchstone for everyone aspiring to higher office or seeking a higher-paying gig in the mainstream media.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, [then] presidential aspirant Jeb Bush gave a short history lesson about his big brother’s attack on Iraq. Referring to the so-called Islamic State, Bush said, “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out … the surge created a fragile but stable Iraq. …”

We’ve dealt with the details of the Iraq “surge” myth before both before and after it was carried out. [See, for instance,’s “Reviving the Successful Surge Myth”;  “Gen. Keane on Iran Attack”; “Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld?”; and “Troop Surge Seen as Another Mistake.”]

But suffice it to say that Jeb Bush is distorting the history and should be ashamed. The truth is that al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before his brother launched an unprovoked invasion in 2003. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” arose as a direct result of Bush’s war and occupation. Amid the bloody chaos, AQI’s leader, a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pioneered a particularly brutal form of terrorism, relishing videotaped decapitation of prisoners.

Zarqawi was eventually hunted down and killed not during the celebrated “surge” but in June 2006, months before Bush’s “surge” began. The so-called Sunni Awakening, essentially the buying off of many Sunni tribal leaders, also predated the “surge.” And the relative reduction in the Iraq War’s slaughter after the 2007 “surge” was mostly the result of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad from a predominantly Sunni to a Shia city, tearing the fabric of Baghdad in two, and creating physical space that made it more difficult for the two bitter enemies to attack each other. In addition, Iran used its influence with the Shia to rein in their extremely violent militias.

Though weakened by Zarqawi’s death and the Sunni Awakening, AQI did not disappear, as Jeb Bush would like you to believe. It remained active and when Saudi Arabia and the Sunni gulf states took aim at the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria AQI joined with other al-Qaeda affiliates, such as the Nusra Front, to spread their horrors across Syria. AQI rebranded itself “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or simply “the Islamic State.”

The Islamic State split off from al-Qaeda over strategy but the various jihadist armies, including al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, [then] seized wide swaths of territory in Syria — and the Islamic State returned with a vengeance to Iraq, grabbing major cities such as Mosul and Ramadi.

Jeb Bush doesn’t like to unspool all this history. He and other Iraq War backers prefer to pretend that the “surge” in Iraq had won the war and Obama threw the “victory” away by following through on George W. Bush’s withdrawal agreement with Maliki.

But the crisis in Syria and Iraq is among the fateful consequences of the U.S./UK attack 12 years ago and particularly of the “surge” of 2007, which contributed greatly to Sunni-Shia violence, the opposite of what George W. Bush professed was the objective of the “surge,” to enable Iraq’s religious sects to reconcile.

Reconciliation, however, always took a back seat to the real purpose of the “surge” buying time so Bush and Cheney could slip out of Washington in 2009 without having an obvious military defeat hanging around their necks and putting a huge stain on their legacies.

Cheney and Bush: Reframed the history. (White House photo)

The political manipulation of the Iraq “surge” allowed Bush, Cheney and their allies to reframe the historical debate and shift the blame for the defeat onto Obama, recognizing that 1,000 more dead U.S. soldiers was a small price to pay for protecting the “Bush brand.” Now, Bush’s younger brother can cheerily march off to the campaign trail for 2016 pointing to the carcass of the Iraqi albatross hung around Obama’s shoulders.

Rout at Ramadi

Less than a year after U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi forces ran away from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving the area and lots of U.S. arms and equipment to ISIS, something similar happened at Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar. Despite heavy U.S. air strikes on ISIS, American-backed Iraqi security forces fled Ramadi, which is only 70 miles west of Baghdad, after a lightning assault by ISIS forces.

The ability of ISIS to strike just about everywhere in the area is reminiscent of the Tet offensive of January-February 1968 in Vietnam, which persuaded President Lyndon Johnson that that particular war was unwinnable. If there are materials left over in Saigon for reinforcing helicopter landing pads on the tops of buildings, it is not too early to bring them to Baghdad’s Green Zone, on the chance that U.S. embassy buildings may have a call for such materials in the not-too-distant future.

The headlong Iraqi government retreat from Ramadi had scarcely ended when Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), described the fall of the city as “terribly significant” which is correct adding that more U.S. troops may be needed which is insane. His appeal for more troops neatly fit one proverbial definition of insanity (attributed or misattributed to Albert Einstein): “doing the same thing over and over again [like every eight years?] but expecting different results.”

As Jeb Bush was singing the praises of his brother’s “surge” in Iraq, McCain and his Senate colleague Lindsey Graham were publicly calling for a new “surge” of U.S. troops into Iraq. The senators urged President Obama to do what George W. Bush did in 2007 replace the U.S. military leadership and dispatch additional troops to Iraq.

But Washington Post pundit David Ignatius, even though a fan of the earlier two surges, was not yet on board for this one. Ignatius warned in a column that Washington should not abandon its current strategy:

“This is still Iraq’s war, not America’s. But President Barack Obama must reassure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the U.S. has his back, and at the same time give him a reality check: If al-Abadi and his Shiite allies don’t do more to empower Sunnis, his country will splinter. Ramadi is a precursor, of either a turnaround by al-Abadi’s forces, or an Iraqi defeat.”

Ignatius’s urgent tone was warranted. But what he suggests is precisely what the U.S. made a lame attempt to do with then-Prime Minister Maliki in early 2007. Yet, Bush squandered U.S. leverage by sending 30,000 troops to show he “had Maliki’s back,” freeing Maliki to accelerate his attempts to marginalize, rather than accommodate, Sunni interests.

Perhaps Ignatius now remembers how the “surge” he championed in 2007 greatly exacerbated tensions between Shia and Sunni contributing to the chaos now prevailing in Iraq and spreading across Syria and elsewhere. But Ignatius is well connected and a bellwether; if he ends up advocating another “surge,” take shelter.

Keane and Kagan Ask For a Mulligan

Jeb Bush: Sung his brother’s praises. (Sun City Center, Florida, on May 9, 2006. White House photo by Eric Draper)

The architects of Bush’s 2007 “surge” of 30,000 troops into Iraq, former Army General Jack Keane and American Enterprise Institute neocon strategist Frederick Kagan, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned strongly that, without a “surge” of some 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, ISIS would win in Iraq.

“We are losing this war,” warned Keane, who previously served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “ISIS is on the offense, with the ability to attack at will, anyplace, anytime. … Air power will not defeat ISIS.” Keane stressed that the U.S. and its allies have “no ground force, which is the defeat mechanism.”

Not given to understatement, Kagan called ISIS “one of the most evil organizations that has ever existed. … This is not a group that maybe we can negotiate with down the road someday. This is a group that is committed to the destruction of everything decent in the world.” He called for “15-20,000 U.S. troops on the ground to provide the necessary enablers, advisers and so forth,” and added: “Anything less than that is simply unserious.”

(By the way, Frederick Kagan is the brother of neocon-star Robert Kagan, whose Project for the New American Century began pushing for the invasion of Iraq in 1998 and finally got its way in 2003. Robert Kagan is the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the 2014 coup that brought “regime change” and bloody chaos to Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis also prompted Robert Kagan to urge a major increase in U.S. military spending. [For details, see’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”] )

What is perhaps most striking, however, is the casualness with which the likes of Frederick Kagan, Jack Keane, and other Iraq War enthusiasts advocated dispatching tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers to fight and die in what would almost certainly be another futile undertaking. You might even wonder why people like Kagan are invited to testify before Congress given their abysmal records.

But that would miss the true charm of the Iraq “surge” in 2007 and its significance in salvaging the reputations of folks like Kagan, not to mention George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. From their perspective, the “surge” was a great success. Bush and Cheney could swagger from the West Wing into the western sunset on Jan. 20, 2009.

As author Steve Coll has put it, “The decision [to surge] at a minimum guaranteed that his [Bush’s] presidency would not end with a defeat in history’s eyes. By committing to the surge [the President] was certain to at least achieve a stalemate.”

According to Bob Woodward, Bush told key Republicans in late 2005 that he would not withdraw from Iraq, “even if Laura and [first-dog] Barney are the only ones supporting me.” Woodward made it clear that Bush was well aware in fall 2006 that the U.S. was losing. Suddenly, with some fancy footwork, it became Laura, Barney and new Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus along with 30,000 more U.S. soldiers making sure that the short-term fix was in.

The fact that about 1,000 U.S. soldiers returned in caskets was the principal price paid for that short-term “surge” fix. Their “ultimate sacrifice” will be mourned by their friends, families and countrymen on Memorial Day even as many of the same politicians and pundits will be casually pontificating about dispatching more young men and women as cannon fodder into the same misguided war.

[President Donald Trump has continued the U.S.’s longest war (Afghanistan), sending additional troops and dropping a massive bomb as well as missiles from drones.  In Syria he has ordered two missile strikes and condoned multiple air strikes from Israel.  Here’s hoping, on this Memorial Day 2018, that he turns his back on his war-mongering national security adviser, forges ahead with a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un rather than toy with the lives of 30,000 U.S. soldiers in Korea, and halts the juggernaut rolling downhill toward war with Iran.]

It was difficult drafting this downer, this historical counter-narrative, on the eve of Memorial Day. It seems to me necessary, though, to expose the dramatis personae who played such key roles in getting more and more people killed. Sad to say, none of the high officials mentioned here, as well as those on the relevant Congressional committees, were affected in any immediate way by the carnage in Ramadi, Tikrit or outside the gate to the Green Zone in Baghdad.

And perhaps that’s one of the key points here. It is not most of us, but rather our soldiers and the soldiers and civilians of Iraq, Afghanistan and God knows where else who are Lazarus at the gate. And, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served 30 years as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and CIA analyst and is now a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). 

102 comments for “How to Honor Memorial Day

  1. D Tucker
    June 4, 2018 at 12:41

    It is all money, in a FAR greater way than we suspect.
    Our many DOZENS of war companies are privatized – and THAT means that they are funded by basically unlimited federal money, GUARANTEEING profits. That is why the greedy want EVERYTHING privatized. And that is why they want constant, endless and multiple wars. These companies are typically ON THE STOCK MARKET because profits are guaranteed by our national money. And the greedy DO NOT provide the troops with adequate salaries or equipment or other things, because they would rather that as much $$ as possible goes INTO THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS.
    Also privatized – federal prisons, healthcare insurance, Medicare Part D and more. They are working on education and infrastructure now.
    This article has links to professors of economics who inform the public, AND the 3rd link is to Alan Greenspan explaining to Paul Ryan back in 2005 that the federal govt can issue ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY (for anything that is physically possible, is the simplest way to desribe it).

  2. Tom
    May 31, 2018 at 15:37

    Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. All 3 illegal and immoral wars. Millions of innocent people died, are scarred for life or will soon kill themselves. Despite this, the rich and powerful will continue to try and manipulate to keep supplying bodies for these.

    Questioning these wars to many is like criticizing Israel. You’re weak on “terrorism”. The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. And so on.

  3. John Barth
    May 29, 2018 at 00:07

    Here is a poem that might be made to Jessika’s title and Sam F’s comment. It is rather too wide-ranging but I hope not too long.

    The Ruined American Century
    © 2018 John Barth jr.

    The rights of our Constitution are saved, by vigilance against tyranny,
    But gold unrestrained, mass media soon bought, and elections no more could be free;
    Gold’s tyrants must pose with the flag as defenders, for which they must have enemies,
    To demand excess powers, and to accuse, their opponents of disloyalty;

    So slowly we ceded financial powers, to the Fed of oligarchy,
    And Congress gave up its warmaking powers, to a secret agency,
    And a diverse press unified by gold, as the voice of plutocracy,
    Robbed us all of elections and public debate, the tools of democracy.

    Still the US had dreams, after World War Two, of an American Century,
    We would raise the world’s poorest and educate all, to promote democracy.
    But in Israel, Iran, Korea, and Nam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos,
    We helped no one, killed millions, and found ourselves chained, to a crude plutocracy.

    Afghanistan’s been a wonderful test, of corrupted democracy,
    The “graveyard of empires” is quite valueless, but Russia might get it, you see.
    So thrice Brits invaded, and thrice “surges” failed, from the 19th century,
    They lost to the Afghans, Russia stayed clear, and their empire was soon history.

    There to “stop” Russia, AlQaeda we spawned, who attacked us when we left them dry,
    Walked into the quagmire ourselves for revenge, and stayed there to block BRI,
    To harass Iran for zionist bribes, reap opium funds for dark ends,
    To excuse mass surveillance and genocide, our tyrants must “surge” to “defend.”

    Our tyrants declared that such Projects would build a New American Century;
    Having ruined the old, they may not be wrong, but destruction will not set us free;
    The ruined “American Century” we’ll save, with a vision for humanity,
    America we’ll save from ruin and shame, by deposing oligarchy.

    Else no one will miss us when empire’s collapsed, in embargo and retreat.
    Wake up, America! We’re slaves! ‘Til Gold’s tyrants go down in defeat.

  4. John Barth jr.
    May 28, 2018 at 23:59

    Here is a poem that was mentioned might be made to Jessika’s title and Sam F’s comment. It is rather too wide-ranging but I hope not too long.

    The Ruined American Century
    © 2018 John Barth jr.

    The rights of our Constitution are saved, by vigilance against tyranny,
    But gold unrestrained, mass media soon bought, and elections no more could be free;
    Gold’s tyrants must pose with the flag as defenders, for which they must have enemies,
    To demand excess powers, and to accuse, their opponents of disloyalty;

    So slowly we ceded financial powers, to the Fed of oligarchy,
    And Congress gave up its warmaking powers, to a secret agency,
    And a diverse press unified by gold, as the voice of plutocracy,
    Robbed us all of elections and public debate, the tools of democracy.

    Still the US had dreams, after World War Two, of an American Century,
    We would raise the world’s poorest and educate all, to promote democracy.
    But in Israel, Iran, Korea, and Nam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos,
    We helped no one, killed millions, and found ourselves chained, to a crude plutocracy.

    Afghanistan’s been a wonderful test, of corrupted democracy,
    The “graveyard of empires” is quite valueless, but Russia might get it, you see.
    So thrice Brits invaded, and thrice “surges” failed, from the 19th century,
    They lost to the Afghans, Russia stayed clear, and their empire was soon history.

    There to “stop” Russia, AlQaeda we spawned, who attacked us when we left them dry,
    Walked into the quagmire ourselves for revenge, and stayed there to block BRI,
    To harass Iran for zionist bribes, reap opium funds for dark ends,
    To excuse mass surveillance and genocide, our tyrants must “surge” to “defend.”

    Our tyrants declared that such Projects would build a New American Century;
    Having ruined the old, they may not be wrong, but destruction will not set us free;
    The ruined “American Century” we’ll save, with a vision for humanity,
    America we’ll save from ruin and shame, by deposing oligarchy.

    Else no one will miss us when empire’s collapsed, in embargo and retreat.
    Wake up, America! We’re slaves! ‘Til Gold’s tyrants go down in defeat.

  5. May 28, 2018 at 21:34

    As much as I admire and respect Ray McGovern – he and other veterans must understand that suggesting the best leaders in our government would be those with a military background is disappointing. I would rather NOT have those types calling the shots. Look what it’s got us?

    Cindy reminded me of a quote (whose origin I forget): ‘War undoes a mother’s work.” All power to Cindy Sheehan and all the peace seekers out there. #WomenMarch4Peace

    • Nancy
      May 29, 2018 at 11:24

      I agree. The U.S. military is a crime syndicate that wreaks havoc the world over. I’m sorry, but anyone who has joined the military at least since Vietnam is either a willing participant in this evil or, “young and dumb and full of come” as my husband used to say. Harsh maybe but it’s true.

      Cindy Sheehan is my hero.

  6. KiwiAntz
    May 28, 2018 at 19:38

    I personally like the way the Russians celebrate their “Memorial Day” or “The Great Patriotic Victory” (in WW2 as they call it)? They have their “Immortal Victory parade where the veterans & millions of their descendants participate & march in this parade with pictures, held high, of their loved ones who fought & died in Wars? You get to see the true enormity of the loss, grief & tremendous cost & cause & effect of War & how it impacts on Families for generations? When you observe the sea of faces of victims of War in those pictures you really do get angry & have a contempt for the Warmongers who never fight in the wars they create? And Russia lost 23 million fighting the Nazi’s, they bore the brunt of WW2. If we were to put these Warmongers in the frontline of the Wars they start & have them putting their own lives to sacrifice first, I bet the Wars would end pretty quickly? They are willing to send others too their deaths but never themselves? Scumbags they are!

    • KiwiAntz
      May 28, 2018 at 19:46

      Sorry it was Russia’s “Immortal Regiment Parade”.

  7. Brian Lewy
    May 28, 2018 at 19:06

    Thank you Mr. McGovern. Keep up the fight

  8. mike k
    May 28, 2018 at 17:47

    What if Memorial Day was an occasion to remember all the horrific crimes of our nation, and vow to atone for them? Instead of a day to worship and kiss the militarist boot that is grinding our culture into the dirt.

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 17:49

      Just remember: the military teaches and practices one thing: HATE.

      • mike k
        May 28, 2018 at 17:50

        The spirit of Hitler lives on – America will not let it die.

        • mike k
          May 28, 2018 at 17:52

          America hates Peace.

          • KiwiAntz
            May 28, 2018 at 18:20

            It’s not that America hates peace, they hate, not being able make a profit from War? Peace & it implies means the MIC is obsolete & no longer needed so no more trillions off dollars wasted on stupid Wars & Militarily hardware? Just imagine all that wasted money being put to better use in America, such as on social programs & providing universal healthcare, free college education for America’s youth, infrastructure spending & other things? That’s the unfortunate thing about funding this bloated killing machine called the MIC?

      • May 28, 2018 at 21:35


  9. May 28, 2018 at 17:34

    It is tragic and shameful that so much time has gone by since the Year 2000 – International Year for the Culture of Peace, when Dr. Adams was attempting to fulfill what UNESCO had been planning for during the 1990s – to enable a procedure to be developed that would enable peace to be more easily chosen than the resort to war. The Security Council pulling the funding at the last minute. This meant that the world was deprived of a template that grass roots civil society could have joined, with the UN system to transcend the war establishment. The best we have to advance this solidarity-building approach at present is the Sustainable Development for 2030 project, and the 17 sustainable development goals would be transformative; they could drastically raise the quality of life and the advancing of world standards of care in numerous areas. I see this process as the antidote to enabling the war machine to roll on with its own momentum, with the people of the world not organizing to replace it, with a set of cultural advances, getting us toward the Culture of Peace.

    I tried to see what the presumed American contact on this project, USAID has to say about these goals, but they have not as yet acknowledged or answered in any way. Does anyone know of other institutional agencies that have connections with developing the 17 SDGs for 2030? Does anyone have a personal in with USAID that they are willing to share? Here is a link with a Canadian group that is organizing. If anyone knows of a comparable American group, please reply. Thanks!

  10. May 28, 2018 at 17:09

    Thanks for the blunt reality, Realist. If grassroots society were working on building real internationalism and problem solving, would there remain an opening for predatory militarism? How much organizing is being done in the US to bring the people of the world together on real human needs? Here is a link from British Columbia Canada on the building of support in Canada for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 – that could build real improvements in health care under single payer, and achieving legal reform to enable equal justice for all.

    So long as we allow pathological groups like the John Birch Society to undermine every effort to build solidarity between societies by disparaging any connection with the UN as an evil globalism – we will be missing the opportunity to allow healthy practice of democracy enable a livable future.

  11. May 28, 2018 at 17:01

    Zero Hedge picked up Ray’s fine article today also. Many great comments, especially Sam F.’ “The Ruined American Century”. And to top it off, we’re ruining our Earth…

    • Sam F
      May 28, 2018 at 18:16

      Thanks, Jessika, yours is a good title; I could not edit the comment due to cookie problems. Perhaps it could be a poem with your title.

  12. Lolita
    May 28, 2018 at 16:49

    Any MH-17 report analysis down then pipe? Thx

    • May 29, 2018 at 11:38

      An interesting bit of information here from the Russian government.

      • Skip Scott
        May 29, 2018 at 16:26

        Link’s already down. I think I already read it though. Was that the one about the supposed missile having too old of an engine to be in the Russian arsenal?

        • Lisa
          May 29, 2018 at 18:27

          If you go to the website and search for “MH17”, you get about 10 articles on the issue, published on 25th May. The particular link given by Paul is not among them. There are more articles on the following days.

  13. Charles G
    May 28, 2018 at 16:33

    Countries are not free people are free. Nobody dies for a country they just die.

  14. Mary Fishler
    May 28, 2018 at 14:57

    Do you think the world is ready for expanded SALT Talks to include all bombs and weapons of all kinds, for every country? Of course It would have to have the same “trust but verify” component.


    • Joe Tedesky
      May 28, 2018 at 16:25

      I think the world is, but I don’t think the current U,S. Government is.

  15. May 28, 2018 at 13:53

    Send “our leaders” to the front lines of war.
    March 9, 2009

    “Should We Have War Games for the World’s Leaders”?

    Yesterday’s enemies are today’s friends and today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies, such is the way of the world, and wars of the world. All these wars cause enormous bloodshed, destruction and suffering to those affected. Therefore, would it not be much simpler to have war games for all of the world’s leaders and elites every few years? We have Olympic Games every four years where the world’s athletes from different countries compete. And many of these countries are hostile to each other, yet they participate in the Olympics. So if enemies can participate for sport, why not for war games?…
    [read more at link below]

    • CitizenOne
      May 28, 2018 at 14:21

      Pink Floyd, The Final Cut, 1983

      The Fletcher Memorial Home (Waters)

      Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
      And build them a home, a little place of their own.
      The Fletcher Memorial
      Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings.

      And they can appear to themselves every day
      On closed circuit T.V.
      To make sure they’re still real.
      It’s the only connection they feel.
      “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Reagan and Haig,
      Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher, and Paisly,
      “Hello Maggie!”
      Mr. Brezhnev and party.
      “Scusi dov’è il bar?”
      The ghost of McCarthy,
      The memories of Nixon.
      “Who’s the bald chap?”
      And now, adding colour, a group of anonymous latin-
      American meat packing glitterati.

      Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
      They can polish their medals and sharpen their
      Smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for awhile.
      Boom boom, bang bang, lie down you’re dead.

      Safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
      With their favorite toys
      They’ll be good girls and boys
      In the Fletcher Memorial Home for colonial
      Wasters of life and limb.

      Is everyone in?
      Are you having a nice time?
      Now the final solution can be applied.

    • May 29, 2018 at 11:47

      Nah, too expensive. Just amend the Constitution to require the immediate execution of any members of Congress who vote for war. That would give them the proper perspective on requiring others to die. It’s a variant of the Golden Rule.

  16. Jeff
    May 28, 2018 at 12:38

    As with everybody else, I’ll say this is a great piece because it is. Nominally speaking, I would be left with little to say. But I have one little comment to augment what Ray has said. We are frequently told that our military “protects our freedom” and when you say something that somebody doesn’t like, they’ll say “thank a vet for your freedom to say something like that.” Pfui. The military hasn’t “protected our freedom” in a very long time. Protecting our freedom implies that it is under attack from some external group with capable of being an existential threat to the existence of the United States. The last time that happened was WWII. Not one single country we’ve attacked since then has had a snowball’s chance in hell of bringing the US to its knees and please note that no country has actually attacked us. As for the “thank a vet for your freedom to say nasty things about the government”, the military doesn’t protect us from our own government. The government is supposed to protect our constitutional guarantees. They’ve been doing a shitty job ever since 9/11.

    • May 29, 2018 at 11:53

      As a Vietnam War combat vet, I’m sick of that “thank you for your service” line. Occasionally, I find myself lecturing someone who has thrown that line at me. Only slightly less offensive is that “protecting our freedoms” corollary.

  17. Sam F
    May 28, 2018 at 12:05

    Afghanistan has been a wonderful test of the corrupt former democracy of the US. The “graveyard of empires” is of no value to anyone, but sought by all empires solely because they fear that Russia might want it.
    Britain invaded Afghanistan and failed three times in the 19th century, each campaign a “surge” from the last, their oligarchy afraid of a “threat” to “their” India, of an invasion by Russia. In two centuries that never happened, but they still claim this.
    The US warmongers seek Afghanistan to harass Russia, block the Asian road project, harass Pakistan, harass Iran for the zionists, or get opium revenue to their secret gangs. These projects are all unconstitutional, genocidal, and damaging to US security.
    America is history’s largest example of the destruction of democracy by unregulated economic power, the dictatorship of oligarchy. Their political tyrants create foreign monsters to pose as protectors and accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty. Their mass media sells wars to those angry at the misfortunes brought upon them by the rich, as the means to symbolic personal triumph by killing all who disagree.
    The ruined “American Century” can be saved only by a humanitarian vision, and if the people cannot depose US oligarchy so as to rise to that vision, the US must hide in shame from the enemies its selfishness has made, ruined by isolation and embargo. No one will miss the US when it has collapsed into permanent disgrace.
    Wake up, America! We are slaves until the oligarchy is destroyed.

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 16:02

      Exactly right Sam. ‘It’s the oligarchs, stupid” should be our slogan. To keep us focused on the real source of most of our problems.

      • Sam F
        May 28, 2018 at 18:20

        Thank you, Mike. It is hard to recommend solutions when focused upon the problems of oligarchy, without advising people to shake their cage or use extreme measures, but we have seen good ideas here, and the vision is certainly needed.

    • KiwiAntz
      May 28, 2018 at 18:46

      You summed it up perfectly Sam? The American people need a “French Revolution” moment with a storming of the Bastille movement, to gulliotine this Obligarchy elite class, out of existence? Although, this would be difficult to achieve as this Elite class has totally bought the Political process, own the Media & MIC & militarised the police & taken other countermeasures to quell popular uprising, (such as creating opiate addiction & economic slavery by creating a precarious, precariate class of people)? But Americans do have a advantage no other Country enjoys? They have a second amendment right that provided options to overthrow a tyrannical Govt, although I’m not advocating a armed overthrow but something peaceful if possible? A Political social coup by forming a US Citizens Party to replace the two Party system? MMP maybe? An American Coup staged by the American people?? Hypothetical of course but it would be a World first, as the US usually does coups in other Countries?

      • Sam F
        May 28, 2018 at 20:29

        Interesting ideas, Kiwi, which speak to many of us, both in the needs and difficulties.

        Some semi-coercive changes occurred here with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where the pull came from peaceful spokespersons such as Martin Luther King backed by the powerful JFK, Johnson, and RFK, while the push came from street rioters and organizers in the urban ghettos, without whom no doubt the racists would not have been fearful enough to be “persuaded” by the diplomats. But those were fairly minor concessions, and the national mass media were at least somewhat sympathetic and still not so corrupt.

        New political parties allied in a democratic coup is the worthy opening scene of many a dream ending in a question mark for many of us. Your notion is amusing, to do this as a foreign regime change operation, although political action here is usually a matter of buying airtime to reach armchair activists, so the rich win every time. Perhaps the secret agencies open up a regime change project in a nation whose identity later turns out to be the US, and we all sign on to its horrors, and accidentally restore democracy here?

        Motivating and organizing every sort of dissident into a movement requires very broad and deep anger, so we await the financial crashes caused by US isolation and pyramid collapses. Then we will need the core of organizers forming in earlier times of stress, shown the paths of reform by thinkers today.

        My path is toward a College of Policy Debate to debate all viewpoints of all policy options in all regions, textually by internet, producing commented debate summaries for public access and comment, hoping to prevent the foolish US foreign policy choices often made despite better information then available. If it works and something like it prevails over mass media propaganda, allowing everyone who cares to find all views on every subject collected and mutually challenged and argued, it will be one step along our path.

    • John
      May 28, 2018 at 21:57

      The only thing wrong with your post is the claim “The “graveyard of empires” is of no value to anyone”
      Afghanistan is first, geographically positioned so that many pipelines are planned to run through it.
      Also, Afghanistan is very mineral-rich, including and especially in Lithium – which is needed for batteries for everything from consumer electronics to electric cars.

      • Sam F
        May 29, 2018 at 08:57

        Good to know that others have found something of value there recently, although no doubt it would be used when needed regardless of the form of government. We would probably get the batteries for less if China extracted lithium, and the BRI and pipelines would not hurt us. Silks, lacquers, and rice did not notably spike when we left Vietnam. We don’t fight over the crossroads of the Midwest.

        • Nancy
          May 29, 2018 at 11:32

          Afghanistan is a beautiful country and is of most value to its people.

  18. May 28, 2018 at 10:35

    Ray McGovern is a national treasure, and so is Cindy Sheehan. They are 2 of the all-too-few voices willing to stand against the horrific military industrial machine. Just imagine how much courage it took both of them to do what they did back in 2004, at the height of the jingoistic blood-lust fest the neocons created in the wake of 9/11. I have watched and read the work of both of these amazingly courageous people over the course of 15 years or so, and what strikes me as tragic is that there are still so many who buy into the ‘patriotism’ b.s. and are willing to sacrifice their own children to senseless wars.

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 16:04

      “Patriotism – the last refuge of scoundrels.”

  19. Anon
    May 28, 2018 at 10:17

    Memorial ceremonies and flag waving allow the rich dictators to demand loyalty to themselves in the name of the principles they have overthrown. The rich despise America’s principles and spit upon the Constitution.
    Soldiers are the fools of rich dictators and they know it, hoping to escape war and retire. They have no honor.
    Flag-wavers are cowardly imbeciles destroying America because they have no principles. They are traitors.

  20. vinnieoh
    May 28, 2018 at 10:15

    Since CN decided to re-cycle this piece (that is not a complaint against its quality,) I’ll post this as evidence that ordinary little citizens can have more knowledge, common sense, and morality than our ruling class.

    From: lawrences
    Subject: The impending war against Iraq
    Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2002 12:43 PM

    Dear Sir:

    Although I am a resident of Ohio, I am contacting you because you have proven to be a man of honor and reason and a powerful force in the U.S. Senate. I am strongly opposed to the impending war in the Middle East, and have already expressed these views to the senators from Ohio, but I believe that if anybody can mobilize opposition to this impending disaster, it may be you. I listened to your comments prior to the non-debate concerning the Resolution to authorize the use of force, and I agree that the real consequences of this conflict were not addressed at all.

    This conflict is worse than folly. I believe that at the very least: the situation in the Middle East will be much worse and not better; world opinion will solidify against Americans and American policies; terrorist organizations and activities will be strengthened, not weakened; we will be bankrupted into the unforeseeable future. At the worst, this act of aggression could plunge humanity into global conflict the likes of which previous human experience will not have prepared us. Lest these concerns seem selfish and self-centered, I do not wish to again see American sons and daughters slaughter innocent civilians from the safety of our high-tech weaponry, and all for the true purpose of expanding the corporate oligarchy.

    Now is not the time to remain silent for the purpose of political expediency. While representative democracy still exists between these shores it is time to rein in a chief executive and his cabal who are apparently in the throes of a consuming blood-lust. I have considered myself and have voted Democrat all of my life (I’m 50 years old), and I must say that I am disgusted that most of the elected Democrats in Washington have been struck mute on this issue. No reasonable person who is fully contemplating the consequences of what is about to happen could come to the conclusion that any good is going to come from this. I believe, despite the gaudy and superficial manifestations of popular American culture, that this country is populated by reasonable people, and our elected representatives should consider the consequences of remaining mute and cowardly as George II leads us into a national disgrace and disaster.

    History, if indeed there be anyone left to record it, will justly lay the blame for this catastrophe at our feet. Please sir, I implore you, do everything in your power to stop this from happening.

    A sincere Veteran, American, and a Human Being,

    Vince Lawrence
    email: *********@***.net

    “Happy” Memorial Day. One last thought. Kind of paraphrases what Ray was trying to say, and they are my own words that I decided on, several years into the criminal invasion of Iraq: One can not earn honor and glory for one’s self by prosecuting an illegal and immoral policy.

    Is this perhaps one of many reasons for the high suicide rate of GWOT veterans?

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 10:19

      Excellent post.

    • Sam F
      May 28, 2018 at 11:05

      With the endless “marches of folly” of our dictatorship of rich traitors, Memorial Day has become a flag-waving psyop for a “national religion” of lies and bullying that sacrifices poverty draft animals to the ideological fantasies of opportunist demagogues. Their fake praise for “the fallen” and disgusting lies about the motives and effects of their constant genocides and subversions betray their deliberate murder of US citizens and foreign innocents to get money, public office, and promotions. The families of those sacrificed should denounce rather than legitimize these schemes of murder by corrupt politicians.

    • May 28, 2018 at 15:06

      That was a fantastic post, vinnieoh. Who is organizing the GWOT veterans so that they can advance the culture of peace? I recall Afghan students clamoring to become connected with the UNESCO Culture of Peace program as part of the Year 2000 – International Year for the Culture of Peace and the International Decade for the Culture of Peace 2001-2010, but I found no evidence of the countries in the Security Council treating this whole project with the seriousness that it deserves.

      There is a vast number of genuine peace making things that we could be doing to enable genuine social solidarity, using the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. We need an outfit like the GWOT to begin to get the United States to become seriously engaged on this whole effort. USAID is supposed to be a leading organizer – but I challenge anyone to let me know if USAID has lifted a finger on this – or returned any phone call to ANYONE on this project. Here is an example of a group in Canada [Kelowna BC] that is organizing for the 17 SDGs:

    • vinnieoh
      May 29, 2018 at 11:07

      I just noticed on coming back to check for replies that the addressee line of my old archived e-mail was missing above. I sent that message to the then Sen Edward Kennedy. No-one needs remind me of the senator’s human failings; my opening remarks were in the vein of “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I sent a generically edited version to every other member of the Senate.

      Just recently I updated my historical understanding of those past events. On September 14, 2001 (going from memory) the first AUMF was voted on, a generic authorization to use military fore against terrorists and those supporting same. Rep. Barbara Lee from California was the only elected rep from either house of Congress to cast a NO vote. The AUMF referenced above was the later one specifically tailored to allow the invasion of Iraq.

      Thanks for the kind, generous replies.

  21. Dorothy Hoobler
    May 28, 2018 at 10:12

    A great article! Another extraordinary quality about Cindy Sheehan was and is that she saw the tragedy for the mother’s of Iraq was as real as her own. Very few people have that sense of common humanity – certainly none of our politicians.

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 10:20


    • May 28, 2018 at 10:30

      Agree. She is a stellar human being, capable of understanding the extent of suffering on all sides. She is organizing a new women’s march against the pentagon in October. Please join if you can!

      • Dorothy Hoobler
        May 28, 2018 at 11:49

        I intend to.

      • Lois Gagnon
        May 28, 2018 at 20:55

        I’ll be there.

      • May 28, 2018 at 21:40

        Same here. The time has come for the ‘establishment’ AntiWar, Inc. to be replaced by a true bottom up grassroots peace movement. This will be the beginning of it. That Sheehan is the inspiration and leader makes perfect sense. October 20-21, 2018.

  22. Mary Fishler
    May 28, 2018 at 08:28

    To Ray McGovern:
    Also, thank you for your life’s work.

  23. Mary
    May 28, 2018 at 07:48

    If my parents were alive, I know they would have loved and respected you for speaking out so clearly about this long night we find ourselves in, as a nation and as individuals. My mother used to say a couple of things in response to war and other political and social injustices and atrocities: “For shame. Why do people have to be so cruel.” They would’ve loved and respected Cindy Sheehan. Please give her a hug her for me. Thank you Ray McGovern for your kindness and honesty and guidance. Un abrazo fuerte, Mary

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 10:21

      Well said Mary.

  24. mike k
    May 28, 2018 at 07:39

    The United States of America is the Evil Empire on this planet. One of the most evil groups in this Empire of Evil is the military. Young people are trained to kill and brutalize others, then celebrated as heroes – just as ruthless hit men are celebrated and honored by the Mafia. The worst among us are put forward as the best. Noble words are turned into lies in the mouths of our politicians and media propagandists.

    • CitizenOne
      May 28, 2018 at 10:16

      Actually, there are a lot of evil empires. History has a long list too. The natural state of man is to create evil abusive murderous empires which kill as many people as they can.

      “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”
      George S. Patton

      The problem comes not from war itself but from the ultimate reason for the war. Some wars like WWII were necessary because the all too real possibility that Germany would come to dominate Europe and Japan would dominate the Pacific. It was a classical war fought purely for economic gain by the Axis powers. Also it was classical since it was a war waged by governments and heads of state. Hence when it was over those nations unconditionally surrendered and the war ended.

      Fast forward to later years and many still question the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.

      The reasons become complex for these wars and the outcomes less certain than the clear victory in WWII. We lost Vietnam and all the hype about dominoes and evil empires didn’t happen. We won Iraq but that outcome created ISIS which we later funded to attack Syria. Is this what we expect our leaders to do?

      Another example is the Iran Coup d’etat where we installed a dictator to counter Iran’s nationalizing the oil companies. This led to the student uprising, the hostage crisis and our long cold war with Iran. We had an October Surprise when we found out that Iran Contra went back to before the Reagan Election and there is evidence that George Bush was personally negotiating terms with the Iranians in order to prolong thir captivity until after the election. It seems to me that secretly dealing with a foreign enemy nation that is holding US citizens hostage to prolong their captivity for political gains fits the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors.

      Why don’t hold leaders accountable under the law?

      George Bush went on to be the international spokesperson for The Carlyle Group perhaps the largest private arms dealers on the planet. All of the investors in the Carlyle Group became insanely wealthy after 9/11. Their basic investment strategy was to buy up depressed military defense contractor stocks which fell after the Berlin Wall came down knowing that those stocks would go up if there were another conflict. What about the moral conflict of their investment strategy especially since major shareholders were also in key positions to be able to influence foreign policy?

      It seems fairly obvious that when federal intelligence agencies fail to react to foreign nationals learning to fly with no desire to go to landing school there was at least willful ignorance regarding the plans of Osama. The reasons for recent wars seems entirely too conflicted. Just like the classical wars of the past, today’s wars are still being waged by the leaders of nations for economic gain.

      Are our troops to blame? Absolutely not. They are young, idealistic and loyal. They believe in America and are willing to fight for our freedom. They are to be honored on this day for their sacrifice.

      On the other hand, the leaders who are making a killing behind the scenes while ginning up wars for profit wherever they can need to be held accountable for their actions and at least a shred of acknowledgement by the “liberal” media needs to reach peoples ears.

      We can honor the dead for their sacrifice but we need to honor the living by preventing their lives being lost in the quest for money.

      • CitizenOne
        May 28, 2018 at 10:17
      • Joe Tedesky
        May 28, 2018 at 10:46

        Great little essay CitizenOne. You give a valuable lesson in the art of ‘buying low and selling high, and damn those who don’t agree’. We are witnessing what you get from an all for profit military. Take the profit out of war, and you will end all war. Joe

        • CitizenOne
          June 6, 2018 at 22:39

          I saw a bumper sticker which read, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power there will be peace” Seems about right to me.

    • Sam F
      May 28, 2018 at 10:50

      Yes, in the military “young people are trained to kill and brutalize others, then celebrated as heroes.”
      Also true as Citizen says that many are “young, idealistic and loyal… willing to fight for our freedom.”

      But no one not paid to recite propaganda would think that the US has been fighting for its freedom, and no one who pays attention thinks that it is fighting for anything positive. So the military above age 20-25 just don’t question the obvious lies, due to their ulterior motives. Those who agree with the foreign policies of US warmongers don’t believe in the principles of America, only its dictators’ ideology of lies and killing for profit. The majority are simply forced to go along with the dictators like everyone else.

      • CitizenOne
        May 28, 2018 at 13:05

        But fighting for our freedom is exactly what the propaganda preaches. Like Orwell’s “nineteen eighty-four”, the citizens of Oceania are taught to hate Emmanuel Goldstein and the enemy states Eastasia and Eurasia. Perhaps the most disturbing part is that you never really know if Big Brother or Emmanuel Goldstein even exist. It could be that these are fictional straw men that serve the purpose of the state to control the masses. Either way, real or not, it is the same issue to be handled by the state. It is all fake news all the time in Oceania.

        I’m not selling the volunteers who sign up short. I do not believe they join the military (for the most part) so they can become legal mafia wise guys. Obviously and especially given the recent trends to use contractors (mercenaries and soldiers of fortune) there is some of that going on.

        Let’s face facts. Propaganda works. At least PT Barnum was correct when he said you can fool most of the people most of the time.

        I don’t know any parents who wish their children in the military would bring home lots of money they got pilfering corpses. However I do know that governments wage wars to bring home lots of money by pilfering other nations.

        This point is key. Blaming servicemen and women for the foreign policy decisions of our government is ludicrous as is any suggestion they should take the “high ground”. In the military you follow orders; period.

        On the other hand we should never allow those who want to squash criticism of our government to use the false argument that in so doing, the critics of the government are dishonoring the folks that sacrificed for the nation. That is the false patriotism used by totalitarian nations to silence debate while conducting immoral and unethical deeds. As Samuel Johnson said in 1775, “(false) Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”

        • Sam F
          May 28, 2018 at 14:32

          Indeed there is diversity among volunteers, perhaps even as mercenaries. One certainly does not wish to unfairly criticize the volunteer with good intentions. But I see thuggish teams here who often fired guns at our charity to “defend the town” (their thug tribe subset), who apparently learned “skills” in the military. So it seems that many sign up for the opportunity to kill for the tribe, looking for any excuse to vent their anger at unknown processes. They are looking for an imaginary enemy just as much as the demagogues who “defend” us in Washington.

  25. May 28, 2018 at 06:36

    Truthful and thoughtful people like Ray know the truth of this and all wars but they, like Ralph Nader, will never be guests on any corporate T.V. shows, nor will any of the swamp creatures dare to debate them in public, as they could not defend the lies they perpetrate for profit. The insanity of our foreign policy has miseducated the general public to the point of insanity. I always get the usual zombie phrase of “Thank you for your service” and the bewildered look when I say that I didn’t serve, I was used. They usually never approach me again and look at me as some sort of creature because I don’t see the world through their eyes but they look thru the glass darkly. I have no idea how we are going to make them see the truth of this tragic farce and inhumanity. we destroy the world and ourselves with the illusions that pass as truth. I guess I just want to know the truth when I die! They will never see the fact that all are connected as well as every particle in the universe, one and the same, that is the mystery of it all that the sages tried to get people to understand. God in you, you are god and everyone else is also. Not separate! You can connect to the sacred my understanding this. Thank you Ray, for being who you are and for having the courage to speak the truth, with much love, Jack Williams.

    • mike k
      May 28, 2018 at 07:22

      Thanks Jack. Very well said.

    • RickD
      May 28, 2018 at 07:35

      As a fellow veteran I echo and support your eloquent words.
      War is a profit center, the cause is generally linked to corporate desire for capturing markets and an ever increasing need for more and more profits.
      That wars endure is directly linked to the vast amounts spent on the MIC as well, and not the needs of our nation as a whole.

    • CitizenOne
      May 28, 2018 at 13:18

      I agree. Well said.

      Add Noam Chomsky (“Evil Noam”) to the list of banned interviewees. After years of cold shoulders, he got his shot on PBS but at the last minute the higher-ups at PBS decided to pull the plug so there was just 5 minutes of radio silence. He is the man America loves to hate. The most dangerous liberal in America etc…

      Amazing how the “liberal” press fails to connect with him despite his best efforts.

      • CitizenOne
        May 28, 2018 at 13:19

        Here is a link to The “Evil Gnome” Chomsky. BTW, I think he would fit right in here.

      • John
        May 28, 2018 at 22:13

        Chomsky is most emphatically not a “Liberal”.
        He is very openly a Libertarian Socialist.

        • CitizenOne
          May 29, 2018 at 23:21

          I have not heard the term “Libertarian Socialist” applied to anyone. What does that imply for you to distinguish him from an ordinary “liberal”?

  26. RnM
    May 28, 2018 at 05:18

    It’s very disconcerting how Memorial Day has, in this topsy-turvey culture has become a celebration of the type of denial and forgetting that Ray McGovern so eloquently describes. Thanks, Ray for again upholding the spirits of the American Revolution, and the Civil War for us, and to name the names of certain betrayers of the Americans who may or may not have chosen wisely (Who can really say about the origins of any one individual’s choices?)
    Myself, I boycott cookouts and partying the last weekend in May, and buy an artificial poppy instead from a disabled Vet It’s a time for remembering and committing to put those memories toward sanity (i. e., not repeating the same futile actions).

  27. Realist
    May 28, 2018 at 01:52

    Not to sound callous, but without forced conscription, nobody joins the military against their free will. Unless they spent their formative years under a rock, or possess an IQ in the low double digits, they ought to know from just casual exposure to the media, school books, zines and even graphic novels that America is not under any real threat from any other country or combination of countries on the face of the earth. Yes, the propaganda is pervasive, but it’s patently transparent, just like the politicians who hypocritically sell it; like Trump telling one narrative on Monday and a diametrically opposite story on Tuesday. No one in authority has any credibility any longer.

    The grunts ought to know that they join the American service to exert the power and influence of the empire into every far corner of the globe through use of lethal force with extreme prejudice. Our American “heroes” get to do all their killing “over there,” on the other side of the planet, never here in any actual defense of their “homeland.” They are not accurately described as “defenders” or “warriors” or any other lauditory appellation. Rather, they are raiders, conquerors, conquistadors, or legionnaires. When they attack they put the “Blitzkrieg” to shame with the obscene kill ratios their space-age weapons allow against thoroughly outclassed relatively primitive countries that have never left their own borders, let alone fired a shot at America. Our troopers stomp 10,000 miles to go shoot fish in a barrel, only they are human beings, not fish…or turkeys, which would be another apt analogy for what the U.S. military specializes in. They have massacred millions from Viet Nam to Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and made untold more homeless refugees, and their apologists want the world to feel sorry and shed crocodile tears for the few thousand of them who randomly died because someone effed up while they were following immoral and illegal orders. Many of those were accidentally killed by their own comrades…and subsequently lied about by the government and its media mouthpieces.

    The only pity I feel for these hired killers is the way they were recruited: being plucked by means of bribes and false promises from a disintegrating working class deliberately sabotaged by the economic policies of its own government. For them the army takes the place of a job and a living wage. For children of the disappearing middle class, enlisting is their last hope to cover some college tuition, if they finish their hitch alive. I wouldn’t say either of these groups is eager to do the dirty work the chain of command has in store for them. Even the kids from the hood can mostly see through the trickery and hypocrisy. They know they won’t be defending Compton, Overtown, the Lower Ninth Ward or West Garfield Park from any Jihadis. Those fish aren’t biting as frequently any more, so the feds have to recruit numerous immigrants in return for promises of citizenship rather than deportation. The other thing they now do is to hire mercenaries–“independent contractors”–which used to be against American law not that long ago, but now makes up nearly half the manpower in hotbeds like Iraq and Syria. The next logical step for our great and powerful empire will be to establish an equivalent of the old French Foreign Legion, in which dregs from all over the planet are employed in the armed service of American empire… or maybe ISIS and Daesh already qualify for that role? Do our hired terrorists get medical and retirement benefits? Probably ahead of taxpayers once AmGov starts prioritizing to save money under its new constitution.

    Did that sound disrespectful? What is to be respected about a society that allows its leadership to scoop up dispensable citizens to use as cannon fodder in the service of an empire that kills and thieves wantonly to benefit only a tiny fraction of those at the very tip of the pyramid?

    • LarcoMarco
      May 28, 2018 at 04:08

      “Not to sound callous, but without forced conscription, nobody joins the military against their free will. Unless they spent their formative years under a rock, or possess an IQ in the low double digits”

      Most Americans of fighting age, I believe, consider military enlistment far beneath them. So, I am totally mystified when I read about polls that reveal the military is the profession Americans hold in the highest esteem.

      • Realist
        May 28, 2018 at 08:14

        I think that most also believe genocidal wars of aggression are not exactly moral or in the interests of the country or themselves. They’ve got better things to do with their lives than throw them away killing people who did nothing inimical to our country on the other side of the world. They may spout patriotic platitudes about the military because they are expected under serious social pressure and they don’t want the hassle of a public argument.

        The second line of my text that you included within your quotes is not a dependent clause to the first sentence. It is part of the next sentence: an adverbial clause modifying “they ought to know… that America is not under any real threat…” which is the main declarative statement. I’d rather not be misunderstood.

        • Skip Scott
          May 28, 2018 at 11:16

          I think the biggest problem is that neither our children, nor the vast majority of the citizenry, are taught any critical thinking skills. It is all about image. Teenage boys fall for anything that paints them as macho men. The 1986 movie Top Gun was all about recruiting teenage boys who wanted to be macho men to be our new generation of cannon fodder in our “all volunteer” armed forces and, as HW said, “to kick the Vietnam syndrome once and for all”.

          I really do pity these kids as victims as much as those they are sent to kill. I am reminded of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” when the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals the two children beneath his robe, who are ignorance and want. “but mostly beware this boy, for on his forehead I see that which is written “doom”…”

          • Joe Tedesky
            May 28, 2018 at 12:11

            Skip I’ll go along with that considering to how many of my generation found themselves standing in a rice paddy with bullets whistling by, until they finally realized that that John Wayne image was just a movie. Joe

          • Nancy
            May 29, 2018 at 11:49

            I don’t pity them as much as their victims but ” military age” is much too young. Twenty-five should be the minimum age for recruitment. Before that age, most kids are just young and dumb and full of come, as my husband used to say. And after that, they might just have enough critical thinking skills to reject becoming part of a killing machine.

          • Skip Scott
            May 29, 2018 at 12:14


            The military age is that young precisely for the reason that they nearly all still lack critical thinking skills at that age, and they come home maimed, either physically or psychologically, if they come home at all. Even with the recruitment age as low as it is, they are having a hard time filling the ranks as more and more parents become disillusioned with US foreign policy, and see the lie of their kids risking their lives to “protect our freedom”. They are now resorting to foreigners by dangling the possibility of citizenship, and more and more mercenaries. And of course they are abstracting the violence by having kids operating drones like they were playing a video game.

            Some sudden increase in human consciousness is our only hope for survival. Someday I pray our oligarchs will declare a war that no one shows up for.

      • Sam F
        May 28, 2018 at 10:32

        I think that you both agree, and I agree with you both. The polls are deceptions of the MIC.

        • Realist
          May 28, 2018 at 16:36

          Yes, and I realise that most Americans, being herd animals who don’t do nuance, would tell most of us here to “go back to Russia” for the remarks we’ve posted, even though they really don’t want the lives of their friends and relatives wasted in wars of conquest.

          Cindy Sheehan is right not to let that go.

          I had at least six classmates killed in Nam. They’ve been dead much longer than they lived, the first one buying the farm in January of 1966.

          • Sam F
            May 29, 2018 at 18:20

            I’m sorry to hear of your lost classmates, too much of a burden to comprehend beyond sharing the sense of loss that motivates us to prevent war. How governments waste lives in carelessness and baseness.

    • Lois Gagnon
      May 28, 2018 at 21:22

      Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be soldiers. I raised my boys to be pro-peace. When the recruiters started calling in their senior year of high school, they were prepared to resist. It galled me that they had to register for the draft at all.

      The National Security State is a protection racket for western oligarchy. All the romanticism that surrounds Memorial Day is just to keep the sentimental mythology in tact. Of course, 911 and the GWOT was used to reinforce the troops as national heroes mindset.

      As you say, if you are even casually paying attention, you know what the real aim of US militarism is. There’s a lot of active denial going on. The truth is just so damn ugly, most folks would rather avoid it even when their own kids get taken down by it. We are a sad spectacle of a country right now.

      • May 28, 2018 at 21:50

        Brava Lois!

      • John
        May 28, 2018 at 22:23

        My dad was a vet who was scarred by ‘Nam.
        When the army recruiter called me, I told him “Your motto is, ‘be all that you can be in the army’. Well, if all you are capable of is is allowed by the army, then it would probably be better for you to go get killed in war and weed out the gene pool.”

        I was 17 at the time, it was the best I could come up with off the time of my head.

        • Lois Gagnon
          May 28, 2018 at 23:59

          Good on you! I bet he never called back.

  28. May 28, 2018 at 00:59

    Ray misses a point or two, especially important with the rise of alt-right types with Trump in office.

    We as a nation must NEVER forget that Memorial Day was founded to remember Union dead from the Civil War.

      May 28, 2018 at 05:53

      This is a reprint of a piece Ray wrote in May 2015. It focuses on the Bush and Obama administrations.

      • May 28, 2018 at 13:13

        i get that … but it was written on Memorial Day weekend of that year. Even without the new version of the alt-right, neo-Confederates were around then, and the Lost Cause bs has been around almost as long as Memorial Day itself.

  29. Strngr - Tgthr
    May 28, 2018 at 00:43

    How to Honor Memorial Day? (hmmm…omg) With who is in office what is there to be proud of? (Stalingrad?) Articles like this go back and forth between Presidents like Bush (akk: Cheney) & Obama, I suppose to be politically correct in the wrong way. But all one has to do is look at HISTORY and just see what party is the party of war and PEACE. If anyone thinks Obama would have invaded Iraq in the first place after 9-11 – it is not even an argument. He would not even fire missles in to Syria. (Don’t do stupid stuff was his way.) And so eight years after don’t do stupid stuff we have a guy who can’t wait to drop a H-Bomb someplace to make his mark on histiory. Great, lets be thankful. I guess he will drop it wherever Putin and Juliana Assange want it.

    • LarcoMarco
      May 28, 2018 at 04:16

      Obama lost his balls when his version of John Bolton, Killary, sawed them off. Then she cooked up false intelligence, a la Dumbya, which led to Libya’s dismemberment under Obomber’s passive watch.

      • Lois Gagnon
        May 28, 2018 at 21:27

        Funny how Dembots always attempt to brush the destruction of Libya under the rug as if the people who perished there and continue to suffer and die as a result of Killary’s warmongering never existed.

    • John
      May 28, 2018 at 22:40

      Democrats the party of peace?
      You mean like in the former Yugoslavia?

      Heck, your hero the Queen of Chaos is on video pimping the war in Iraq!

      Al Gore only criticized the Iraq war at the time, because he would have postponed it a bit

      The Dims have forced almost all of the anti-war people out! (Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, etc)

      The parties of peace are the Greens and Libertarians. If you vote for EITHER Dimocraps or Repugnicans, you are actively supporting wars of aggression.

      Even in your own delusional rhetoric, you engage in sabre-rattling against Russia (the ONE good thing that Trump had going for him in his campaign was detente with Russia, but the Dims, with their histrionic unhinged ranting about the thoroughly discredited “Russia Hacked The Elections” nonsense – which Ray McGovern has written about rather extensively) and you point at Assange, who is a hero who has NEVER been shown to print incorrect information, unlike anyone in the Dim party, as if, by telling UNDENIABLE TRUTH, he is somehow a bad guy.

      As far as Obama’s claim to “not do stupid stuff”, it is well documented that, under his administration, a Nazi-led coup in Ukraine was fomented, Al-Queida was armed and trained in Syria, arms funding for Israel was INCREASED after they carried out grave war crimes (which meet the Geneva Convention definition of Genocide), Libya was decimated (based on lies), etc ad nauseum.

      Is David Brock still sending out paychecks?

      • Skip Scott
        May 29, 2018 at 07:00


        You are trying to confuse Stranger Together with facts. I strongly suspect he/she is totally impenetrable.

    • Nancy
      May 29, 2018 at 11:53

      Obama waged war every single day of his administration. Are you living under a rock or just wearing blinders?

  30. Joe Tedesky
    May 27, 2018 at 23:33

    Ray thanks for this important article, as your struggling with it paid off.

    Now I’m not one to rain on anybody’s parade, but I have a hard time reconciling people’s true patriotism while we all stand for the National Anthem at sporting events, or other events where our flag is honored. Not to judge anyone’s admiration of our country, but with all of the honoring of our military, and with jets flying over the ball yard, I find these over produced displays of patriotism to be a bit over the top. Like, do these people not know that our country is feared by the majority of the world’s population, and that this fear is based on a real life deadly everyday reality? Don’t these taxpayers, who complain all the time about paying high or any taxes at all realize that this military spending our country is doing, is a debt trap just waiting to gobble up what’s left of the American treasure… if there still is any treasure left? Or are the joyous fans just glad that they didn’t, or don’t have to serve in our ever active military? Why can’t these cheering patriots see through the many lies about war, that this country’s leaders have lead us to time and time again? Ask a red, white, and blue, sports fan when was the last time America won a war…. then listen to their silence, and watch the contortions in their face muscles twitch. At this point you may wish to leave these patriots alone, for the confusion over your questioning all of this military madness may make them slash out at you.

    Not only has America gone a step to far with its for profit war machine, but it’s war propaganda has been so packaged as to make it, one hellva commercial grade product. And in America isn’t that’s what it’s all about…packaging a fantastically shinny beautifully made profitable product.

    • RnM
      May 28, 2018 at 05:37

      Your comment is a apt distillation of the fruits of the purposeful dumbing down of the US. I’d put the latest push (by Dubya) squarely in the lap of the Bushes.

      • Joe Tedesky
        May 28, 2018 at 09:21

        Americans are that classic example of lab mice being used to form the predetermined outcome of the experimentation. We Americans should just look up and wave and give our controllers the finger, as we all smile and go in the other direction. Joe

        • Joe Wallace
          May 29, 2018 at 18:24


          My favorite T-shirt reads: “Never, ever thumb your nose at authority. As long as your hands are free, why not give ’em the finger!?”

    • Joe Wallace
      May 29, 2018 at 18:22


      “Don’t these taxpayers, who complain all the time about paying high or any taxes at all realize that this military spending our country is doing, is a debt trap just waiting to gobble up what’s left of the American treasure… if there still is any treasure left?”

      Great point, Joe. Not too long ago, the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, stated that “insufficient funding [has] created an overstretched and under-resourced military.” This was his argument for still MORE military spending. Apparently cutting back on our military commitments or our military spending is out of the question. If taxpayers were made aware that our military now receives 57% of the discretionary spending in the budget, while our domestic needs (infrastructure, education, health care) suffer, how many of them could be persuaded that the military is underfunded?

  31. Dunderhead
    May 27, 2018 at 21:05

    Thanks Ray great article, you and Cindy Sheehan are the Real heroes and your country needs you now more than ever!

    • May 28, 2018 at 01:44

      I agree!!!!

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